Jane E Brody of the New York Times wrote in December 2019, 'For Better Brain Health, Preserve Your Hearing.'
She wrote, "Hearing loss is the largest modifiable risk factor for developing dementia, exceeding that of smoking, high blood pressure, lack of exercise and social isolation.
Every now and then I write a column as much to push myself to act as to inform and motivate my readers. What follows is a prime example.
Last year in a column entitled “Hearing Loss Threatens Mind, Life and Limb,” I summarized the current state of knowledge about the myriad health-damaging effects linked to untreated hearing loss, a problem that afflicts nearly 38 million Americans and, according to two huge recent studies, increases the risk of dementia, depression, falls and even cardiovascular diseases.
Knowing that my own hearing leaves something to be desired, the research I did for that column motivated me to get a proper audiology exam. The results indicated that a well-fitted hearing aid could help me hear significantly better in the movies, theater, restaurants, social gatherings, lecture halls, even in the locker room where the noise of hair dryers, hand dryers and swimsuit wringers often challenges my ability to converse with my soft-spoken friends.
That was six months ago, and I’ve yet to go back to get that recommended hearing aid. Now, though, I have a new source of motivation. A large study has documented that even among people with so-called normal hearing, those with only slightly poorer hearing than perfect can experience cognitive deficits.
That means a diminished ability to get top scores on standardized tests of brain function, like matching numbers with symbols within a specified time period. But while you may never need or want to do that, you most likely do want to maximize and maintain cognitive function: your ability to think clearly, plan rationally and remember accurately, especially as you get older.
While under normal circumstances, cognitive losses occur gradually as people age, the wisest course may well be to minimize and delay them as long as possible and in doing so, reduce the risk of dementia."
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